Stress Eating Associated with Troubled Financial Times
In times of a troubled economy or personal finances associated with a natural disaster such as drought, stress becomes a major factor in many people’s lives. Stress, in turn, can lead to stress eating. Stress eating means eating whatever you want, and as much as you want, when you feel upset. That may sound like fun, but it can be very damaging to your health in the long run.
How can people cope with the overload of worry? One important solution is to pay particular attention to a healthy diet.
Good nutrition is key to combating most major health concerns, and stress is no different from other chronic conditions. Symptoms of stress include nervousness and a racing heartbeat. Most health providers suggest following a diet for heart health. The standard recommendations are to limit intake of salt, sugar and fat and increase fiber in your diet. In addition, avoid caffeine and alcohol because one acts as a stimulant and the other as a depressant.
It is easy to find information that claims eating a certain food is a cure-all for stress. “That isn’t so,” said, Helen Jones, a regional Extension agent in human nutrition, diet and health. “Following a good balanced diet from all of the food groups makes more sense.”
Eating two servings of protein per day helps the body maintain and repair itself. Lean meats, eggs, beans and soy products provide ample protein. Some people prefer eating turkey or fish for protein, citing the release of endorphins (feel-good brain chemicals) as their reason.
Dried fruits and fruits high in antioxidants, such as blueberries, are good dietary choices because they yield vitamins and minerals that help to keep blood pressure in check. Vegetables, especially dark green leafy vegetables, also deliver a good blend of vitamins and minerals. Potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, cooper, magnesium, vitamin C, the B vitamins and folic acid play a role in heart health.
“Rather than focusing on one nutrient, focus on eating foods from all of the groups in the MYPLATE guide and the necessary vitamins and minerals will automatically be included in the diet,” Jones added.
Carbohydrates are the primary nutrient that powers our brains. Whole grain breads and cereals, along with brown rice and wild rice and starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, can supply carbohydrates and boost fiber. High fiber helps slow the digestive process and ease digestive problems related to stress. All unrefined foods from a plant source furnish fiber.
Low-fat milk and low-fat yogurt are important to a stress diet because of the calcium and vitamins they contain. Calcium is not only needed for strong bones and teeth, but also for maintaining muscle tone. Remember the heart is the strongest muscle in the body because it never stops its workout routine.
Soup consumption is a good stress reliever. Soup is warm and comforting to eat and it is loaded with vitamins and minerals. Soups are usually inexpensive and can be made from a variety of leftovers, which is a plus during harsh economic times.
Last, but not least, is the need for water in the stress diet. Water aids with the metabolism of foods and the processing of food waste.
“During any economic crisis, the last thing a person needs to deal with is the expense of illness. That’s why it is so important to prevent health problems by following a good diet,” Jones said.